In recognition of a career distinguished by meticulously researched investigations, intrepid questioning and reporting that has challenged both conventional wisdom and mainstream media, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard will present journalist Robert Parry with the 2015 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence during a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 22, 2015.
Parry established the website, consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the first investigative news magazine on the Internet. He continues to edit the site and notes that a founding idea behind the project was the belief that “a major investment was needed in journalistic endeavors committed to honestly informing the American people about important events, reporting that truly operated without fear or favor.”
Parry is known for breaking many of the stories related to the Iran-Contra affair while working at The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He received the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work on Iran-Contra at the AP, where he broke the story that the CIA had provided a manual to the Nicaraguan Contras (“Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare”) that outlined ways to build support for the Contra cause and carry out political assassinations.
In 1985, he was the first to report on Oliver North’s involvement in the affair and along with his AP colleague Brian Barger, was the first to describe the Contras’ role in cocaine trafficking in the United States – stories that led to an internal investigation and a congressional inquiry. Parry also was a 1985 Pulitzer finalist for his work.
In the early 1990s, Parry made several documentaries for PBS’s Frontline on the October Surprise allegations about a plot to influence the outcome of the 1980 presidential election between incumbent Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He continued to report on the topic and published two related books: “Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery” (1993) and “The October Surprise X-Files: The Hidden Origins of the Reagan-Bush Era” (1996).
Parry’s other books include “America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama” (2012), “Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush” (2007), “Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq” (2004), “and “Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’” (1992).
Parry worked for Bloomberg News from 2000-2004. He has reported from Grenada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran, Israel and Haiti and has taught at the New York University Graduate School of Journalism.
Former Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach, chair of the advisory committee that oversees the annual award, said, “Robert Parry has for decades been one of the most tenacious investigative journalists. Driven by his concern that the information flooding our communications system increasingly substitutes opinion for historical fact and undermines effective citizen and government decisions, he has created a unique news website to replace disinformation with facts based on deep research.”
Established in 2008, the I.F Stone Medal honors the life of investigative journalist I.F. Stone and is presented annually to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of journalistic independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published 1953-1971. The award is administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and its Nieman Watchdog Project.
An advisory committee of journalists oversees nominations and the selection of an annual medal winner. The 2015 I.F. Stone Medal selection committee was chaired by Kovach, Florence Graves, founding director of The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and Myra MacPherson, author of “All Governments Lie: The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone.” The group made their selection from recommendations presented by journalists including John Darnton, Patricia O’Brien, D. D. Guttenplan and Melissa Ludtke.
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard educates leaders in journalism and elevates the standards of the profession through special programs that convene scholars and experts in all fields. More than 1,400 journalists from 93 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a quarterly print and online magazine that covers thought leadership in journalism; Nieman Journalism Lab, a website that reports on the future of news, innovation and best practices in the digital media age; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.
For more information about I.F. Stone, visit www.ifstone.org.